By Contributing Writer/Blogger, Courtney Rhodes, @TheBrandista
Brandspiration: Top Female Brand, Dina Marto
Dina Marto embraces the rewards of committing ten years of passion, innovation and hard work to the music business. I caught up with the impressive 30-year-old, music industry entrepreneur and business professional amidst her celebrating a few milestones in her music career. After forming Twelve Music Group and opening a 4,000 square foot recording studio in Midtown Atlanta in September 2012, the business has made notable achievements under Marto’s direction and networks. She executive produced, A&R’d and independently released, the State of Mind album of electric violinist Ken Ford. State of Mind peaked at #3 on the Contemporary Jazz Billboard Chart, #4 on the Jazz Albums Chart and #1 on the South Atlantic Regional Heatseekers Chart. Marto planned, produced and managed a sold out concert for Ken Ford at the Buckhead Theatre, in Atlanta. Realizing the changing dynamics of marketing and generating revenue in the recording industry, Marto decided to film the show for television, which aired on the Aspire Network in April of 2013. For the 77th Annual Heisman Trophy Presentation, Twelve Music Group made history as 4.6 million viewers watched Ken Ford perform the first live-music performance during ESPN’s telecast of the awards.
When asking Marto what allowed her to find success during a time that appears more challenging for other boutique labels and recording studios to survive, she said, “I remain passionate, loyal and innovative in managing fresh talent and cultivating the careers of my clients. I represent super producer Polow da Don (Usher, Fergie, Keri Hilson) and Zone 4, Inc. ventures. I also teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer Bangladesh (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lil Wayne) to sign, develop and manage 16-year-old sensation Brenda Mada. I’m finding projects I believe in and putting the best team in place to bring the vision to life, that is working really well for us right now.”
Marto is on to something. In addition to her management success, in only her second year operating the studio, it has become one the most popular and exclusive spaces in Atlanta. Twelve Studios not only houses the talent that Twelve Music Group is developing, it also services high profile clients including; Anita Baker, TLC, Nelly, Christina Milian, Sean Paul, Diggy Simmons, New Edition and others. She acquired and publishes the single “Thing Called Us” by Hamilton Park on Harrell Records/Atlantic, which peaked at #29 on the Mainstream R&B /Hip-Hop Chart. She publishes the single “Sweet Love” by Chris Brown on RCA/Sony Music, which peaked at #16 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip Hop Chart. As if this isn’t enough to keep the brandista moving, she has convinced me, the best is yet to come with the recent signing of Brenda Mada to a major deal. Although she could not share the specifics, she assured me Mada should be a household name by next year this time. Based on her recent track record, I’m convinced and cheering her on every step of the way!
I asked Marto what experience has had the most positive influence on her current success? “I knew while in pursuit of my Bachelor of Arts degree from Oglethorpe University that I wanted to work in the music industry. While there, I simultaneously garnered music industry experience. I worked for both DTP/Def Jam South and for Grand Hustle/Atlantic Recording Artist T.I. Armed with experience after graduation, I was able to build a flourishing PR business working with music folks. Then I leveraged both my PR experience and music industry work and accepted an opportunity with music mogul and then Chairman at Def Jam Records, LA Reid. Reid handpicked me to serve as the Executive Assistant to the former Executive Vice-President of Def Jam Records, the late Shakir Stewart. At Def Jam/Universal Music Group, I acted as the A&R Coordinator for albums by artists LL Cool J, Janet Jackson, Nas, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Karina Pasian and Brutha. Then, the best experience I received came from managing the Def Jam office in Atlanta. I assisted in building L.A. Reid Music Publishing/EMI. Wow, yes! That was such an amazing gift from God,” Marto shared.
When she finds time to just relax, she loves family and girls time! “I love chilling on the beach or in the spa. If I’m hanging out, I enjoy dining at amazing restaurants and just shopping with my girlfriends,” she said. Speaking of shopping, I asked the brandista what is her most recent splurge? In true brandista fashion, she said, “Oh no, this is not typical of my behavior but I did treat myself for closing the Brenda Mada deal. I grabbed a new pair of neutral peep-toe YSL’s and a super sexy, silver and gold disco mirror Jimmy Choo that is everything!”
I love it, this brandista works hard and plays hard!